Governor Signs Anti-Teacher Bill “the bargaining process will be changed”

Governor Bill Haslam has signed into law the Professional Educators Collaborative Conferencing Act of 2011 and killed any hope of getting the first professional contract for teachers at Rogersville City School.    

The governor signed the bill Wednesday and it immediately became law.

Although a tentative agreement had finally been reached by negotiating teams representing teachers and the school board, the legislation has a provision that states “Any and all bargaining being conducted pursuant to the Education Professional Negotiations Act on the effective date of this act shall be suspended indefinitely.”  The law also states that “No collaborative conferencing pursuant to this part shall be conducted by a local board of education until the training developed under this part has been implemented within the local education agency.

A training program in the “principles and techniques of interest-based collaborative problem-solving” is to be developed by the Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents in conjunction with representative organizations of school leaders and administrators and professional employees’ organizations by January 1, 2012, at which time a summary report of the training program and related materials, if any, shall be presented to the education committees of the senate and the house of representatives. The proposed law calls for the “training program” to be implemented, as appropriate, within each local education agency no later than July 1, 2012.  

Although it was  suggested the board could ratify the contract at the negotiating session or at special meetings called specifically to address the director’s post, ratification at any of those meetings was not legally permissible.  





 Local bargaining teams are scheduled to negotiate in late June, but as Gov. Bill Haslam is expected to sign into law a new process called collaborative conferencing, which limits negotiable areas, officials are unsure how much longer they’ll be at the table.

 “The TEA (Tennessee Education Association) had a staff meeting on Thursday and were looking at the new law,” said Janis Carroll, president of the Jackson-Madison County Education Association. “After they’ve gone through it, we will have some idea of how we should proceed.” 

The teams have been meeting to renegotiate Jackson-Madison County teachers’ three-year contract, which expires on June 30.

Locally the negotiation process has at times been contentious and resulted in the local association seeking legal remedies, citing the district had failed to enter into good-faith negotiations.

Most recently the teams use a mediator to facilitate the negotiation process, but on areas such as salary and insurance, it still has taken weeks, months and sometimes a full year for both teams to sign off on areas in the teachers’ contract.

If Haslam signs the new law, school boards and employees will enter into binding memoranda of understanding, or contracts, on salaries, grievances, benefits and working conditions.

But no negotiations will take place on differentiated pay or evaluations.

Superintendent Nancy Zambito said the law must be reviewed in order to determine the next steps for the local teams.

“Since the contract expires on June 30, we may have to wait to see if there’s training with this new process,” Zambito said. “We just don’t know.”

What is clear is that if the new law known as “Professional Educators Collaborative Conferencing Act of 2011” — a combination of House Bill No. 130 and Senate Bill No. 113 — is signed, the bargaining process will be changed for Tennessee teachers, who have been sitting at the negotiation table for more than 30 years.

“The current contracts are protected until they expire, so that’s some security for employees,” said Jerry Winters, director of government relations for the Tennessee Education Association. “The training for teachers and boards on how the process works begins next January.”

Winters said the TEA is not in full support of the pending changes to bargaining while proponents of the measure believe it’s a positive move.

“Can I say this is a good law? No. But could it have been worse? Yes,” he said. “We can’t give glowing endorsements for it, and that’s largely because of our lack of involvement (in the process).”


CC0001.pdf Download this file

HB0130.pdf Download this file

SB0102.pdf Download this file


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